Dendinger completes plebe year at U.S. Naval Academy

Dendinger completes plebe year at U.S. Naval Academy Thomas Dendinger, a 2003 graduate of Vermillion High School, recently completed his first year (plebe year) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

The mission of the Naval Academy is to train officers for the United States Navy.

Dendinger's first year began on July 1, 2003 with induction day into the Naval Academy. This was followed by a seven-week course of basic naval training with an emphasis on physical fitness and sailing.

Dendinger had been taught to sail at the Lewis & Clark Boy Scout Camp by Larry Hintgen and the staff at the camp. He has loved to sail ever since that time.

The academic year began after the basic training was completed. Dendinger is pursuing a degree in aeronautical engineering. During the first year at the Naval Academy he was a member of the sailing team, the flying club, and the Eagle Scout Club.

Dendinger had become an Eagle Scout of the Vermillion Troop 66 of the Sioux Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Tony Nelson, scoutmaster of Troop 66, had been of great asstance in his obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

He is also a member of the Catholic Church choir of the United States Naval Academy. The choir not only sang for Sunday morning Mass but also gave performances in various cities in the eastern part of the United States.

Highlights of the first year included spending spring break at the United States Naval facility in Pearl Harbor, HI, and touring France with a group of Naval Academy students in June. While in France he toured Paris, visited the area of Normandy where the Allied invasion of Europe had begun 60 years before, and spent several days at the French Naval Academy.

He completed his first year as part of a 12-man team that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a 60-foot sailboat from France to Annapolis, MD. During the voyage they were tethered to the sailboat when working on the deck of the boat. This was done so that when they encountered the 10 to 12 foot waves, which would commonly come over the boat, they would not be swept into the Atlantic Ocean.

The ocean crossing lasted longer than the crew had anticipated and they had consumed all of the food which had been stocked for the trip. Thus the crew members shared the food items they had personally purchased in France to bring back as gifts for family and friends. Thus by the end of the voyage Dendinger's only remaining souvenir from Europe was a rock he had picked up on Omaha Beach and put in his pocket.

It is a tradition at the Naval Academy that the first year is completed when the midshipmen see the dome of the chapel on the Naval Academy campus as they return from their summer sailing tour. Dendinger saw the dome in the early morning light of July 23, as their sailboat sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and into the harbor at the Naval Academy.

At 6:04 a.m. eastern daylight savings time on July 23, their boat docked at the Naval Academy. They were welcomed home by the commandant of the Naval Academy and the first year was completed.

Dendinger is the son of Cyndi and Bill Dendinger of Vermillion.

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